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Publications - May 7, 2003
 

37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Wednesday, May 7, 2003




¸ 1405
V         The Chair (Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.))
V         Mr. Wayne Budgell (Non-Core Fishers Committee)

¸ 1410
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mervin Rice (Non-Core Fishers Committee)

¸ 1415

¸ 1420
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Junior Stuckey (Non-Core Fishers Committee)

¸ 1425
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Randy Fleming (Non-Core Fishers Committee)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan (President, Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation)

¸ 1430

¸ 1435
V         The Chair

¸ 1440
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins (Chairman, Fisheries Committee, Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation)

¸ 1445
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins

¸ 1450

¸ 1455
V         The Chair

¹ 1500
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Max Thornhill (Outdoor Rights and Conservation Association)

¹ 1505
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jean-Yves Roy (Matapédia—Matane, BQ)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. R. John Efford (Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. R. John Efford

¹ 1510
V         Mr. Wayne Budgell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Max Thornhill
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP)

¹ 1515
V         Mr. Junior Stuckey
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan

¹ 1520
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. Rick Bouzan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Wayne Budgell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Arthur Elkins

¹ 1525
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan (Executive Director, Canadian Sealers Association)

¹ 1530

¹ 1535
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan

¹ 1545

¹ 1550
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Wayne Budgell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Wayne Budgell

¹ 1555
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         Ms. Tina Fagan

º 1600
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reed Elley
V         Ms. Tina Fagan

º 1605
V         Mr. Reed Elley
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         Mr. Reed Elley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jean-Yves Roy
V         Mme Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. R. John Efford
V         Ms. Tina Fagan

º 1610
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Ms. Tina Fagan

º 1615
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan

º 1620
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Mr. R. John Efford
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair

º 1625
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Tina Fagan
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans


NUMBER 035 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¸  +(1405)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.)): I'm calling the meeting to order.

    Our witnesses now are the Non-Core Fishers Committee, represented by Wayne Budgell; the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, represented by Rick Bouzan, Arthur Elkins, and Max Thornhill.

    I realize you gentlemen are upset in terms of the time. I'm afraid, if you're going to be upset, be upset, and be mad at me, but there's nothing we can do about it. We'll try to stay a little longer. If you want to use the entire 45 minutes talking, in giving your evidence, you can do that, but then there'll be no opportunity for members to ask questions. I leave it to you.

    We're here to listen, and if you want us to listen for the full time, then we'll do so. But we have to divide the 45 minutes between the two groups, between the Non-Core Fishers and the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation.

    I'll start, just because it's listed this way, with the Non-Core Fishers Committee.

    Mr. Budgell.

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    Mr. Wayne Budgell (Non-Core Fishers Committee): First of all, I'd like to thank you for listening to this presentation. It's a very sensitive issue I'm going to be discussing. I guess there are a lot of things going on in the fishery in Newfoundland, but this is a very important issue to some of the fishers I represent.

    On December 20, 1995, Brian Tobin, then Minister of Fisheries, announced the framework for a new licensing policy for commercial fishers on the Atlantic coast. According to the backgrounder for the press release, the following criteria must apply in the Newfoundland region:

Fishers will be able to choose one of the following three qualifying periods for the purpose of determining their eligibility for core: 1989-1995 for currently active fishers; 1986-1992 for TAGS eligible fishers; 1985-1991 for NCARP eligible fishers;

    In my analysis and assessment of these qualifying periods, it appears, by reviewing the core summary report, the assessor imposed the qualifying periods and also picked the two years out of the last three. By interviewing my clients, I am told they weren't asked by anyone from DFO what qualifying periods they wished to choose. They weren't even aware that they had the right to choose any of the three qualifying periods to determine their eligibility for core.

    I also noticed that there were inconsistencies in picking these qualifying periods. Fishers who were eligible for TAGS and NCARP were assigned to 1989-1995 for current active fishers. Fishers who didn't qualify for TAGS or NCARP were assigned either the 1986-1992 or 1985-1991 periods.

    According to my assessment of the criteria for core enterprise in the Newfoundland region, DFO didn't have the unilateral right to impose the qualifying periods, but it was the exclusive right of the fisherperson to determine what qualifying periods he desired.

    To be eligible for core status, a fisher must have met a number of criteria.

    One, he must have held a key licence in 1995.

    Two, he must have been head of an active fishing enterprise for two of the last three years of their qualifying periods—for example, for each of these two years, having operated a registered vessel using his own licence and having reported a minimum of $5,000 in fishing income for vessels not longer than 35 feet, or a minimum of $10,000 income for vessels over 35 feet.

    The way DFO has interpreted this criteria has led to some fishers being treated unjustly. It's borderline discriminatory. DFO in their assessment didn't accept the partnership arrangement some fishers had, who have provided jurisprudence that this arrangement is legal and not fictional, and still this was overlooked by the assessor. It was common practice that someone would be skipper and the vessel would be registered in his name, but all of the catch and expense would be split equally.

    In the group of fishers I represent, there are several who have fished their entire life—one up to 50 years with no other income outside of the fishery—and yet they do not qualify for core because of the partnership arrangement.

    It was also common practice for the catch to be sold in one CFV number, for administration purposes for the fish buyers. As well, it didn't matter to the fishers at the time because the partners and the crew were paid by a share arrangement that was completed by the skipper and passed in to the buyer prior to the fishing season.

    There also is a group of fishers who fished from their own vessel for part of the fishing season and then went on as a crew member with another fisher. Their own registered vessel would be used as an auxiliary boat, but no catch would be sold in their vessel's CFV number. All of the catch would be sold in other CFV numbers. This second boat was needed when hauling capelin and cod traps and to transfer the capelin and the cod to the fish buyers. And yet these longtime fishers with this arrangement were denied core status. I guess if they knew then what they know now, they would have sold their catch in their own registered CFV number.

    Three, they must meet level II professionalization grandfather criteria.

    I'm not going to read all this for lack of time. Simply, they must be level II fishers to qualify.

    The inconsistency of the review committee needs to be addressed. There are some committee members who did accept the partnership arrangement and there are others who didn't accept it. Some committee members accepted the concept of fishers fishing from their own vessels for part of the year and the other part being a crew member on a longliner. Other committee members didn't accept this arrangement.

¸  +-(1410)  

    I personally appealed four decisions of DFO denying core status for friends of mine. I won the four of them. Two were in a partnership arrangement with all the catch sold in one CFV number, and the other two didn't have the $5,000 catch in any two years.

    I have done some research into the people who were accepted for core and the others who didn't qualify. I found that less than a year ago, a fisher from the northeast coast of Newfoundland received core status. What criteria did he meet that was different from the review that was conducted by DFO in 1996? I am going to suggest that there was political interference.

    Some of my clients did not appeal a decision of DFO that denied them core status while others didn't go to the appeal for different reasons. Some were discouraged by DFO and some had limited education and felt intimidated by the process.

    Another issue that I feel was overlooked in the determination of the core criteria was the historical attachment and the dependency on the fishery that most of my clients have had. Many have fished since they were very young, starting with their fathers, investing thousands of dollars into the fisheries to try to make a suitable living for their families. Many of my clients have had total dependency on the fishery, and this cannot be ignored.

    I have recently written the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans requesting that an independent panel be set up to hear these cases again and that this panel take into account the historical attachment and dependency on the fishery, as in Brian Tobin's press release dated December 20, 1995.

    When I suggest “independent”, I mean independent from DFO and the fishermen's union FFAW. Let this panel be allowed to give this a fresh and intelligent look without any interference.

    In conclusion, I am respectfully requesting that this standing committee support these fishers who have had a great injustice imposed on them and make recommendations to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to set up this independent panel so that this injustice can be reversed.

    Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, this needs prompt consideration so that this fishing season will not be lost to these bona fide fishers. Without a crab permit, and the closure of the cod fishery, these fishers stand to lost the most. After years of contributing to the fishing industry and the local, provincial, and national economy, these fishers deserve to be upgraded to core status.

    On behalf of the non-core fishers, I wish to thank you for your time and consideration.

    I have three fishermen with me—and more than three are in the back—who will read their statements as quickly as they can.

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    The Chair: Thank you, sir.

    Go ahead.

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    Mr. Mervin Rice (Non-Core Fishers Committee): I'd like to add something to what Wayne has already said, on my personal involvement in the fishery.

    In 1972 I quit school and started fishing as a crew member on a small longliner with my dad. I got married in 1976, at which time I also chose fishing as my career.

    So in 1976 I decided I wanted to stay fishing. At this point, I moved from being a crew member on that longliner to a 50% owner of that enterprise. Everything was documented as being 50-50 from 1976 on.

    In 1980 we purchased a 37-foot longliner along with a couple of smaller vessels, and the fishing gear accordingly. All transactions in this enterprise were done on a 50-50 ownership basis. I have a letter here from Fishermens' Management Services, an accounting firm in Gander, that documents what I'm saying in regard to a partnership.

    In just a few years we had built an enterprise that was worth approximately $250,000, half of which was mine. In conjunction with this, I started my own small-boat enterprise, an 18-foot speedboat, in the lobster fishery in 1987.

    I possess the following fishing licences, my own personal fishing licences: groundfish, including lump; capelin; lobster; squid; herring; mackerel; whelk; and seal. I'm not core, and can't get a crab permit. I also had a commercial scallop licence, but it wasn't feasible in my area so I let it go.

    Whenever it was possible, I fished those species from my own 18-foot vessel, but when it was no longer feasible I would prosecute a fishery on the longliner that I 50% owned. I had a family of six children. I couldn't stay in my speedboat just to say that I was a single-enterprise owner. I had to move on to a longliner that I 50% owned. One of the key fisheries for us back in those years was deep-water gillnetting. You can't do that in an 18-foot vessel, so I would naturally step aboard my other vessel and go and fish.

    For the past 31 years, 31 consecutive years, I have never been employed outside the fishery, so for me to be denied core status in the fishery is an injustice that I would class second only to being wrongfully convicted of a big crime. That's what I feel like. I feel like I'm being penalized for some big crime I've committed. Both of these, being convicted of a big crime and being denied fishing access after 31 years, destroy your future, and that's what it feels like.

    The only way I can sum it up is to say that my future financially is in shambles because of something DFO and FFAW decided on, and pushed through really fast, to eliminate some fishers. In the process they have destroyed some very legitimate fishers and have taken under their wings some people who have never fished; they've approved core status for those people. One in particular, not too far from where I live, would scream if you put them in a boat. They possess core and a crab licence, and her husband goes out and fishes a double quota of everything that's in the water because she has it all. Tell me that's fair.

    Why did this happen? This all came about because DFO people, rather than investigate someone's livelihood, sit in their offices and make decisions based on a paper trail. That's where it all comes from. This particular person I'm talking about has drawn top fishermen's EI for 20-plus years. DFO didn't hesitate: Here's a good fisher. And yet they never sit in a boat. But they went by paper.

    As for me, because I missed the deadline for core appeal, it was, “Sorry, b'y, your 31 years don't mean a roll of beans. You're out.” I missed the deadline for appeal, and that's all that's put me where I'm to now.

    This paper trail comes about, as I said, by selling product in other family members' names, and it makes fishermen of those who should not be, while sucking thousands and millions of dollars out of the EI system fraudulently. I'm really poisoned with the system, and I think DFO should look more closely at a person's involvement in the fishing industry before granting or denying any kind of licences or status, and not just go by a piece of paper. Too much is based on paper, because much of it is false evidence.

    I have one other point to make, and that's concerning the FFAW. To talk about them I almost have to take a Gravol pill to keep me from throwing up. I've been a member of this union for years and years, ever since they came about. They take my dues—gladly—but we, the handful of abused fishers in this province, are very disappointed, because they have made little or no effort on our case.

¸  +-(1415)  

    I talked to Earle McCurdy of FFAW about a month ago about this case. He was actually mad because Wayne Budgell, a paying member of the union, took our case and is fighting it. Earle McCurdy got mad because we got somebody to go to the front for us. And Earle McCurdy knows there are dozens and probably hundreds of people in the fishery who have no right to be there and don't deserve core status, but he is satisfied to sit back and not say one word about it. He's never gone on CBC Radio about it, or on any other kind of news, saying we have some people out there being treated unjustly.

    Now he kicks up a big racket over the fishery closing and stuff like that, but still, there are members now who are going under and he isn't paying attention. Why? Because the majority of his membership says to Earle, indirectly or directly, don't you dare issue one more temporary crab licence, or one more core status, because if you do, we're going to lose 20 or 30 or 50 pounds of crab off our quota.

    That's what we have to live with: You fellows starve, you fellows disappear, and we'll get richer.

    I've been somewhat involved with the union over the years. I was chairman of the Green Bay South Regional Fishermen's Committee for years. They use the terms “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” a lot, so you would think the membership was so close-knit. In a natural family you might not get along with your brother and sister all that well, but if somebody came in and tried to hurt them, you'd then get really close to them. And here we have a union where some of the members are starving, are dying slowly and painfully, but they will not go to bat for us. That's disgusting.

    Even though we are a minority in the union membership, it's the duty of Earle McCurdy and the FFAW to represent any member, and he is failing miserably to do that. The union is our biggest problem right now in why we're not core.

    As Wayne said, I would impress upon this committee that we have tried to get a lot of people to listen. I have written letters to John Efford and several other people involved in this. You get a little bit of support, but nobody seems to come together and make a lot of pressure over it.

    After 31 years in the fishery, do I have to turn my back on the fishery, at 47 years old with a $125,000 investment, and go somewhere else and look for work? I'm not a fellow who fished as a crewman, and didn't have any licence in my pocket.

    I talked to Brendan Beresford in Grand Falls—fisheries, DFO. Excuse the language, but his words were, “Holy shit, you mean with all those licences you're not core?” I said, “No, sir, because I never met a deadline. I'm out in the dark.”

    At any rate, I won't waste any more of your time. I'll let it go to somebody else. But that's where we stand. We need help, big time, or we're only around for another season or two.

    Thank you very much.

¸  +-(1420)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Rice.

    Who's next?

+-

    Mr. Junior Stuckey (Non-Core Fishers Committee): I have a little reading here, which I've written myself.

    My name is Junior Stuckey. I am a level II fisherman. I live on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. I have been a fisherman most of my life, since I was 15 years old.

    Since the moratorium in July of 1992 it has been an uphill battle for me. There were a lot of big changes in the fishery, and the biggest was the core status. You had to meet some of the criteria, but a lot of people like me didn't get core.

    I have a groundfish licence. I have a seal licence. I have a lump licence. I have a lobster licence. I have a mackerel licence. I have a squid licence. I have two boats. As a level II fisherman, I cannot get other licences, such as crab. I cannot use a boat that is more than 25 feet long. To get these licences I must have core. To get a bigger boat I must have a core enterprise.

    I have had meetings with DFO, Gerry Reid, and the federal minister, David Anderson at the time, but have had no response on the fishery from those people.

    I could get a core enterprise back in 1999 from a fisherman; they would transfer it if I were fishing with him for three years. DFO would not permit it because I wasn't fishing with the man. Other fishermen have got it through the years even though they weren't fishing with them; they had the core status passed down.

    I am a fisherman, and there are some things I need to provide for my family. If I had core status, I could fish crab and buy a larger boat. I am not looking for a handout or special treatment. I want to see my kids grow up in my community and I want to provide for them.

    I just want to mention that I had meetings with Mr. Reid at the time, roughly a year or two ago. I showed the papers to DFO, and they said to me, “You didn't meet the criteria because you didn't make $5,000.” I had $3,900 at the time, and they asked me if I would mind going back to the fish plant and getting them to do up the receipts to make up the $5,000. Then they would give me a core enterprise here in St. John's, no questions asked.

    So they more or less wanted me to go back to the buyer to get receipts, maybe if they had done them out, or if I went and did them on my own...but I never paid taxes on it this year. So I would have met the criteria and got core. That's my beef with this.

    I'm hoping you guys are going to go back and try to do something with this here, because I'll tell you, a lot of families in my area on the northeast coast are really going out the door. The cod is gone, and the cod is my only hope with my lobsters, my lump. If I even had the cod it would help me provide for my family, but if I had the crab licence, yes, we could keep the cod and let it grow, because out around our way, you have to have the crab to survive.

    I'm not asking to be rich in my community. I just want to go on with my family and provide for them.

    Thank you very much.

¸  +-(1425)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Stuckey.

    Mr. Fleming.

+-

    Mr. Randy Fleming (Non-Core Fishers Committee): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the rest of the committee for giving us this opportunity to speak today on the core policy.

    Mr. Chairman, the lame excuse the Department of Fisheries and Oceans gave me for not meeting this policy was that I had fished as a crew member and never had enough valued landings from my own enterprise.

    My rebuttal to this is that I had no other choice but to fish as a crew member. Back in 1982, when my father died of cancer, I made a request to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to have his enterprise transferred. They declined with the lame excuse that because I had never fished with him to that point in time, they would not make the transfer.

    They did transfer his CFV number but not his species licence. I can't understand how DFO can give you a CFV number and not a species licence. What are you going to catch? Their mentality is mind-boggling. I did acquire a fishing enterprise, but seeing a decline in the fishery I still kept my berth on a longliner.

    I know the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans can make an amendment to this policy to accommodate us non-core fishers, but I really think the senior advisers and senior bureaucrats in fisheries are the main problems with this policy. The mentality of these people is mind-boggling with regard to any compassion for fish harvesters. In my area we have businessmen buying up core enterprises, getting level II fish harvesters to fish while they take vacations, sit back on their duffs, and reap the benefits. We full-time fish harvesters, with our historical attachment, have to sit on the wharves and watch those fishermen go out, without their historical attachment to the fishery, while we have to suffer the consequences.

    I'm here today on behalf of 20 non-core fish harvesters like me, who have been fishing for 20 years. It's devastating for fishermen like ourselves to sit on the wharves and watch other fishermen go out who we know have less historical attachment to the fishery than we do. They go out and participate in a lucrative crab fishery while we have to sit by and struggle to make ends meet financially.

    In closing, Mr. Chairman, I plead with you and the rest of the committee members to take this serious issue back to Ottawa and fight for our concerns, and to see that justice is done for the non-core fishermen of Newfoundland so that the financial hardships these fishermen are experiencing are gone.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Is that it, Mr. Budgell? Then thank you very much. That was 23 minutes.

    I'll now call on the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation. Rick Bouzan is the president, Arthur Elkins is the chairman of their fisheries committee, and Max Thornhill is with the Outdoor Rights and Conservation Authority.

    Go ahead, sir.

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan (President, Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation): Mr. Chairman, I think I bring a divergent viewpoint to these meetings here today. We represent a new industry, I guess, in terms of who we are.

    Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation is an affiliated member of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. We're 42 years old. We have 24,000 card-carrying members. We have numerous organizations involved with us, including Rural Rights and Boat Owners, tour boat owners, tour boat operators, and numerous others.

    In 1992 we held an annual meeting here, which members from all cross Canada and the two territories attended. Then Premier Clyde Wells challenged us then to get very engaged in marine activities—as part of our culture and heritage, for one, and in particular in terms of conservation. We took up that challenge, Mr. Chairman, and we wrote to every single country in NAFO on behalf of the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, urging them to be more considerate of conservation techniques in their fishing practices by their countries on our fishing grounds, in particular on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.

    We had responses from some, but in large, sir, I think we all quite clearly know that foreigners have simply avoided being true conservation people in this thing.

    Again, I have some comments I wanted to make here, but for the sake of time I'm going to be brief. Please take my comments as constructive and not destructive.

    I heard the word “aquaculture” mentioned today. If you read the newspapers lately, you'll realize that in British Columbia the first nations, the native groups, have taken the B.C. government to court over aquaculture. The pollution that aquaculture is causing in Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon rivers is totally destroying the wild stocks.

    We've heard Mr. Etchegary and other noted people refer to the destruction of wild stocks as opposed to grow-outs in aquaculture. I won't speak on marine issues. I am a biologist, and I've had 35 years experience in this field. I can speak for freshwater fields, and I do know that aquaculture is a serious problem. We have to look at it before we engage seriously in aquaculture techniques. They may or may not work in marine environments, I don't know, but we have to take lessons from the freshwater resources we've seen. They're not working that well there, so before we proceed, if we do have to, let's proceed with caution.

    As I say, we're a new group and we're a new industry.

    I heard the word “seals” mentioned. I won't get into it, but 15 years ago I, on behalf of our membership, made a presentation to the standing committee on seals and the sealing industry, that subcommittee of the Senate. I told them what I've heard here today: Deal with the seal populations. That was 15 years ago, from a non-fisherman but a conservationist, who could see the destruction. My grandfather, my father, my uncles—all were fishermen. So I could see what was happening 15 years ago, and here we are today, still talking about the problem.

    That said, I am somewhat concerned—and this comment will be constructive—that we have waited for over a year to have this meeting. We do not have money. We're total volunteers. I'm not the government. I'm not FFAW, who I also take great exception to. I'm not some of these other groups. We asked for a meeting...and I know our time is limited, and your time is limited. However, having to wait a year is to me absolutely unacceptable. I think somehow we have to deal with that issue.

    We made a presentation to this committee over a year ago. We still haven't received a single word back. I don't even know if the members have been given a copy of that presentation. I hope they have. If not, that's an oversight by this committee. Maybe it's a housekeeping matter. Maybe it's something else. But it certainly needs to be dealt with.

    A lot of presentations have been made. No communication is coming back. Issues that we were going to deal with today, three or four pages of them, I have to skip, because the minister's announcement has already been made. When I received your invitation, I noticed the first question you asked us was to comment on the minister's reaction. On April 14 or so we received a communication from you saying, what's your reaction to the minister's announcement? Here we are now, May 7, making a presentation.

    Surely to God, I hope this committee didn't know back in April that the fishery was going to be closed and you're simply here to ask for our comment on something you already knew. I'm assuming this committee didn't know. If they did, I'd be very surprised that Loyola Hearn, Bill Matthews, and John Efford are still sitting on this committee. If nothing else, I think there should be resignation from this committee, although probably not your MP seats, to send a message to Ottawa that the treatment of us down here is unacceptable.

    The other point I'd like to make is that this fishery is not owned by the FFAW. This is a common resource issue. This belongs to the people. Minister Thibault, in the one meeting I did manage to have with him several months ago, personally told me that this resource belongs to the people and all the people should have equal access to it.

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    I'm mind-boggled here by how the federal government, in the 49 years they've been here, has managed to destroy 3 million tonnes of cod; 6.6 billion pounds, the greatest protein mass on the face of the earth, is almost obliterated. And yet, in 40-something years of our history, they have managed to do that. I need to ask this committee why.

    I won't deal with the seals, and I won't deal with the rest of what I have here, but I will deal with the science budget. Since Prime Minister Chrétien and Minister Paul Martin took over, the science budget has been decreased by 90% from 15 years ago. That's a fact. How can we have any kind of meaningful input when the data they are collecting and the statistical things going on are 15 and 20 years old? It's ridiculous.

    The thing I would like to concentrate on for a few minutes is the food fishery. Politicians fail to recognize the importance of a food fishery for locals and tourists. By the way, our organization represents tour boat operators, ecotourism outfitters, and many more groups. There's a new industry out there that wants access to this resource. Last year we took 670 tonnes in the recreational food fishery—less than 1% of the biomass—while seals are consuming 37,000 tonnes of fish.

    Recreational fishermen, tour boat operators, and ecotourism people are being denied a livelihood, being denied access to our culture and heritage rights going back 500 years, and all we're asking for is less than 1% of what everyone else is taking? I think that needs to be reconsidered, and reconsidered seriously.

    It's one of the few remaining food sources left that isn't pumped with antibiotics or hormones, the way our beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and other sources are. Domestic animals are also being plagued with diseases like hoof and mouth and mad cow disease. Now we even have the West Nile virus being forced upon us. The only thing left is a good, wild cod fishery.

    Are the politicians really saying to us that if you can't afford to buy the domestic stuff, buy inconsistent-quality gillnetted fish at $6 to $7 a pound? Or better still, keep eating cheap bologna, wieners, and sausages that are 100% laced with saturated fats, causing a tremendous drain on our health care system? People are eating less nutritional food and are suffering from it in terms of heart disease.

    Last year, at Trinity Bay, Bonavista Bay, and Placentia Bay, the south and southwest coasts, and the gulf, cod fishing was excellent, some of the best reported in 30 years, using baited hooks and fettered hooks. While we took our share of 670 tonnes, less than 1%, the FFAW and commercial fishermen seemed to have left 1,000 metric tonnes in the water.

    If I can go out on the ocean, sir, with a string and a hook and catch fish, and the FFAW can go out with high-powered, high-tech instruments on the sea and leave 1,000 metric tonnes in the water, I seriously question what's happening here.

    This fishery is worth billions of dollars, sir, and yet the voice of 50,000 to 80,000 Newfoundlanders—the recreational food fishery, the tour boat operators, the ecotour operator people—has been totally overlooked. Their name hasn't even been mentioned. A big hullabaloo has been made about, “Oh, we're going to close down the recreational food fishery.” Remember, this is a program that Minister Thibault himself brought in, and spoke to me about in the meeting, the marine recreational fishing licence. He was proud of it. We're proud of it. The 50,000 to 80,000 recreational fishermen, tour boat operators, and ecotourism operators in this province want that program continued. It has a negligible impact on any cod stocks that remain out there but it means tremendous economic income to this province, and it can not and must not be overlooked.

    It would be an oversight by this committee to not look at recreational fishery in terms of what it means to the people. Culturally and historically, we have an attachment to this. I have an attachment to it. I have a right to it.

    Just to summarize very quickly, Mr. Chair, on the gillnets, ghost nets, and the other numerous issues, and the politicians in particular that have interfered in this fishery, these need to be looked at. But whatever you do, do not exclude recreational fishermen and the groups they represent—tour boat operators, ecotourism operators, and other people. It's my cultural heritage and right to have access to that resource. It's a common resource.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bouzan.

    Before we proceed to Mr. Elkins, I want to assure you that no one on our committee, no one, knew what the minister's decision would be any earlier than anyone else did. Certainly you shouldn't take anything from the letter other than we knew that a decision of some sort would occur at some point, and we'd like some comment on it. But we were certainly not taken into the bosom of the minister prior to any decision that was announced. That's the first thing.

    The second thing is, we have absolutely no knowledge—and I regret this—of a request issued to us a year ago. That may be because of changes in staff and various other things, but we simply don't know what you're talking about.

    I want to assure you that it was not easy for us to obtain funding to come here at any time, never mind a year. We've done the best we could to obtain funding from the House of Commons in order to make this trip. It itself was not without incident, I can assure you, because as we've heard before, everybody wants money. Everybody's hand is out. And taxpayers have to pay for this trip.

    So it isn't as though we didn't want to come here, and it isn't as though we didn't want to hear from you. It's just that, like everything else, it takes time and it takes organization.

    So I apologize—

¸  +-(1440)  

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan: I wasn't saying you did know; it appeared you knew, by the agenda. Mr. Hearn had our proposal, the submission we made, over a year ago.

    Mr. Elkins, I guess, will deal with that, so perhaps Mr. Hearn could wait until then. I'd appreciate that.

    I wasn't taken to the minister's bosom either, and the way everything is being burned in effigy these days, I wouldn't want to be next to him.

    We're totally volunteers acting on behalf of people who are trying to make a secondary living on the ocean. It's our resource. We have part of it too, and I just want that recognized.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you, sir.

    Mr. Hearn did in fact bring Mr. Elkins' letter to our attention, I believe in September of last year, which I thought was in a timely fashion.

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    Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Let me clarify, Mr. Chairman.

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    The Chair: Please go ahead, Mr. Hearn.

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    Mr. Loyola Hearn: Sometime after the House vote last year I was contacted by the group to come in. I met with them. They talked about the problem, which undoubtedly they'll talk to us about today, and it was I who suggested they should try to meet with our committee. This group is broadbased, and not a small one. This group represents the whole province, and people in all different aspects of society.

    So I suggested that this was probably the type of committee our committee would hear. I not only suggested they write, I even gave them the address and whatever.

    They wrote then chairman Mr. Easter, who, by the time the House reopened, had been transferred. And the House didn't open until late September. Because of some finagling that was going on, we did not set up the new committee structure until I believe November. We had a meeting or two prior to Christmas.

    Now, I'm not sure whether it was my office, or maybe I just did it on my own, but I approached the clerk about the requests for meetings. In fact we dealt with requests for meetings just before Christmas. When we were talking about coming to Newfoundland, there was no request from your association. I approached the clerk and asked about it, and he contacted my office saying they hadn't gotten a request.

    I went back...because when you came in you gave me a copy of the letter addressed to Mr. Easter, or actually to the former clerk, Andrew Chaplin. Luckily, I had my copy in my files, which I took out and brought over to the clerk. Immediately you were put on the schedule.

    That's basically what happened. I guess anybody can point fingers, but we did what we could do. The only other thing we could do was I guess invite you at your own expense to come up to Ottawa to meet with us, and I don't think that would have gone over.

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan: —[Inaudible—Editor]—

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    Mr. Loyola Hearn: I'd certainly be glad to give you what time I've used up.

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    The Chair: The clock has not been running, but let's not take any more time on this.

    Let's get to your presentation, Mr. Elkins.

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins (Chairman, Fisheries Committee, Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation): Good afternoon, gentlemen.

    What's happening here is putting a new dimension on the word frustration. I did write. I did document, through Mr. Hearn's office, 11 months ago that we had concerns about discrimination in the food fishery. Now, despite what Mr. Hearn has said to you, I'd like to point out that in those 11 months we were not consulted. We had no idea where this document went—probably into a circular file. So what are we to think?

    Here we are today, trying to talk against the clock, 11 months later. I don't know how much time I have. I have something here that's probably worth ten minutes. Will I get ten minutes after one year? I doubt it. My friend here has an equally valid claim to a small portion of your time.

    So this is a most difficult situation, and as I say, I would describe it as a new dimension in frustration.

    This decision has been made by the minister to close the recreational fishery, which is what we are primarily about, although we would like to coexist with the industry, believe me, and the industry supports us too. But the minister has made his decision and we have never been consulted.

    So far, I have not heard an appropriate excuse for your oversight, if I can term it that. I could use stronger language, but at this stage I feel that I'm against a stone wall.

¸  +-(1445)  

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    The Chair: Which oversight are you referring to, the minister not consulting you or you not getting before our committee? Which one are you talking about?

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins: We were not consulted in the sense that we were, I'll say, promised a meeting with this committee. That meeting never transpired.

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    The Chair: Okay. Thank you.

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins: The decision was made without anybody ever speaking to me or the other two representatives of the public and of the Wildlife Federation. The public view was not heard.

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    Mr. Loyola Hearn: Do you mean to close the fishery?

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins: The decision made by the minister to close—

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    Mr. Loyola Hearn: We weren't consulted either.

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    The Chair: We had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision of the minister. Please do not tar us with that brush.

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins: Okay, if I don't tar you with the brush maybe that part of it might require a sort of retraction, but I do tar the government, of which you are part, all being sitting members. I tar them with the brush.

    I'll try to cover a few points as quickly as I can. I'm not going to flog a dead horse. I'm not going to talk about the submission we made and how we never heard back, but I would like to talk about a few subsequent developments that affect us and affect the people behind me belonging to the commercial fishery.

    I belong to the recreational fishery. The only claim I have on commercial involvement at all is the fact that my folks and my grandparents fished out of Bonavista Bay. My grandfather was a schooner builder.

    My only personal relationship with anything connected with marine activity was that I was ten years as a supervisor with Bowaters in their shipping and marine department. So I have an idea what fishermen talk about in the sense of boat operation and things like that. That's my qualification.

    I'd like to talk to you about designating cod as an endangered species. I'd like to point out a little inequity that I see in this. The inequity is that only the coastal cod around Newfoundland have received that designation, or they're trying to paste it onto us. It's only our coastal cod. When you get looking at the broad picture, at the Gulf of St. Lawrence side of Newfoundland, it's darn hard to accept the fact that on our coast they're going to be designated accordingly, as an endangered species, but across 50 or so miles of water this designation doesn't apply.

    If you look at the French corridor along the south coast, St. Pierre and Miquelon, that coast too is having just as much difficulty, and their stocks are just as depleted as ours are, but they are not designated. If you look at the outer rim of the Grand Banks, the nose and tail, as we love to talk about, those fish are not designated.

    Now, I have no scientific background that applies to fishery, but I have been keenly interested in fish ever since I was born, 77 years ago. I'll guarantee you that there's damn-all difference, if you'll forgive my language, between the outer rim of the banks and the shoreline of Newfoundland and everything in between. There is no difference between half-way across the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the other half-way across. There's really no difference in the sense that the gulf cod migrate to the south coast. There's no difference in what you have on the south coast. If one is endangered, they're all endangered. And in my book, if anybody says they're not, I'll call him a liar, straight to his face.

    That's the only point I want to make on the endangered species designation.

    On scientists and science I'd like to make a quick point. I'm talking specifically about the experience of three scientists, or I'll call them all scientists. One is Ransom Myers. He was with DFO and left it. The other is Mr. Leslie Harris. He's with our university. The other is Kim Bell, who I think is still with DFO. Don't hold me to this, because I'm not sure of my facts, although I'm sure of my names.

    These three scientists are all associated with fisheries, all associated with the warnings and the expectation that our fishery was about collapse. These are the types of people I have researched, and I want to point out something to you.

¸  +-(1450)  

    First of all, they were ignored. Some of them actually left the scene and went to richer pastures. I don't know who DFO listens to. If it doesn't listen to men like that, who in the name of goodness are we taking our information from?

    I do know that you have—and when I say “you” I mean government more so than this particular committee, although you might wear the hat if it fits you—frequent consultations with industry and unions. So I'm making the assumption, rightly or wrongly, that those are the people you listen to. And that's fine if you're talking about things that affect industry, about catch technology, about marketing—although I'd hate to talk about marketing if I were selling dead fish out of Smith Sound.

    If you're talking about those sorts of things, it's very appropriate to consult with industry and consult with unions. But once you get into fish conservation, God help you if that's going to be the only consultation you take note of.

    I want to point out now what I saw in my research about these three scientists. According to Mr. Myers, our cod fishery could sustain, if it were properly managed, 200,000 tonnes annually. It could sustain 200,000 tonnes annually if it were managed correctly.

    According to Leslie Harris from the university, when he was very active in this, he set that figure at 300,000 tonnes annually that could be sustained by this fishery if properly managed.

    I'll just take the average of 250,000 tonnes of cod annually: that's what we're talking about that we don't have. If you applied one dollar a pound to that amount of cod, just one species, cod—later you can add on all the other species, including shellfish—you're talking about $500 million annually. That half a billion dollars. We've just chucked it down the drain. We've just closed the door on a disaster that has a price tag on it worth half a billion dollars.

    Somebody should be ashamed of themselves. Somebody has really shafted Newfoundland, or shafted Newfoundland's economy, I should say.

    I just wanted to bring that into perspective for you, and I'll move on as quickly as I can.

    I think there's a master plan afoot. We think, the executive of our Wildlife Federation, there's a master plan afoot, and that's to move out the small boat fishermen, just like we moved out the inshore fishermen. There's no place in this any more for anybody who's not a big operator. That's our opinion, that's the public's opinion, and by damn it, that's my opinion too.

    I believe a few years down the road—and I don't know if you people are for it or against it—you're going to see this plan they have now, P3 or something, for “public-private partnership”. That should be P4, for “public-private partnership privatization”, because that's what it is. Otherwise it's just a misnomer for what's going on.

    It's everywhere you look in government. It applies to hospitals, to old folks' homes, to everything you look at. It applies to the fishery. We're going to convert the fishery to P4, public-private partnership privatization. I don't know if anybody has brought that forward to you before, but I think it's worth bringing out.

    We're not hearing from the big companies. None of them are here beating their gums and banging their heads against a stone wall. We believe the reason we're not hearing from the big companies is that they have nothing to beef about. They know the plan favours them in the end. It will take a couple of years, but it will favour them in the end.

¸  +-(1455)  

    I think it would be wise for you to take back with you, and probably to the minister, the fact that this is the perception. If it's wrong, show us that it's wrong, but if it's right, God help Newfoundland, is all I can say. Because just think of what this is going to do to the outport communities, the small communities, the fishing communities. Outmigration is peanuts compared with what we're headed for, which is devastation of those communities. You're going to have ghost towns every five miles around this coast.

    The ultimate result will be P4. A few people in public-private partnership privatization will make millions. The rest of us are going to be, in farmer's language, “sucking the hind tit”.

    On stock recovery, I think the stocks can recover a lot faster than you think, but I think you have to change your management in order to get any kind of recovery and especially a fast recovery. A fast recovery is several years, due to the life cycle of the fish. For stock recovery, as far as I'm concerned, you have to take the industry and the union and push them out of the management scene when you're talking conservation. Bring them back in when you're talking business, but push them aside when you're trying to look after the fish themselves.

    Somebody has to look after the fish. We haven't done it up to now and we're not headed towards doing it. When in the hell are we going to wise up and start thinking in terms of what codfish needs to survive? The people who will actually sit around such a council and make those decisions have to be knowledgeable about the life cycle of the cod—what it needs to spawn appropriately, what it needs in the way of food. We have to figure in things like seals and so on and manage them appropriately.

    Basically, without the capelin, your recovery is never going to happen. The main thing that takes a fish from a small fish to a large commercial-sized fish...such as salmon. A salmon leaves the freshwater after three years as a little guy about as big as a capelin. All of a sudden he attains predator size, and you get an explosion in growth where that salmon goes from a half a pound to five pounds. That's what happens to the cod. But if the food is not there—and we've taken the food away from these fish—you can whistle Dixie. You won't have a recovery.

    I'm not talking to the appropriate audience when I say things like this, but I sure wish that people of my mind could sit down and help the industry to understand that this is a necessity for them as well as for the fish. Everybody would ultimately benefit.

    I'll move on.

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    The Chair: Mr. Elkins, I have to point out to you that the two of you together have now taken 24 minutes, which is one minute more than the previous witnesses had, and we haven't even heard from Mr. Thornhill, who wants to say a few words. So perhaps I can ask you to wrap up and ask Mr. Thornhill to give his brief presentation. We have to be fair.

    This has been strictly “talking” time, because I stopped the clock when we were talking about the letter and everything else.

¹  +-(1500)  

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins: All right.

    I'll wrap up by saying one final thing that does concern the committee, I think, and that is, we have given diplomacy a try. We wrote. We didn't hear back. We appeared when we were asked to. We're trying to observe your time limitations and so on.

    That's diplomacy. We've given it a try. It's no damn good. It doesn't work. It didn't work in New Brunswick, and that's why New Brunswick is blowing up in your face. Diplomacy is a two-way street. You have to be diplomatic in return for their attempts to be diplomatic. You have to use reason.

    If you use authority, if you take away diplomacy and substitute authority, you will get the big bang. And God help you, you may get it in Newfoundland too.

    Thank you for your time.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Elkins.

    Mr. Thornhill.

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    Mr. Max Thornhill (Outdoor Rights and Conservation Association): Good evening, Mr. Chairman, and fellow committee members.

    I'm speaking as a Newfoundlander who feels he is a second-class Canadian. For years I have been writing succeeding ministers of fisheries, asking for an enlarged recreational fishery in Newfoundland, similar to that of B.C.'s.

    I'm sure Mr. Elley is fully aware of what happens in B.C. Every fish that's in the water in British Columbia, if it has a tail or if it has a shell, if it can be caught commercially it can be caught recreationally. We in Newfoundland by and large are restricted to cod only, so there's not going to be any commercial cod fishery so therefore we probably won't get a recreational fishery. But there are many other species in the water that we should be able to catch.

    Why can't I go out and set a crab pot as I could at one time? I had that right. It was taken away from me. I had a lobster licence. Because I wasn't a commercial fisherman, that was taken away from me. I had a commercial salmon fishing licence. Because I wasn't a fisherman, that was taken away. Why is it we as Newfoundlanders cannot go out in the ocean and catch a species other than cod?

    Now, minister after minister writes me back and tells me that I can catch a mackerel, I can catch a squid, or I can harvest mussels. With my sealing licence I am allowed to get six seals, with my scallop licence I'm allowed to go scalloping, and with the recreational cod I can go and get recreational cod. Lobsters are off limits, shrimp are off limits, crab are off limits, herring are off limits—everything is off limits. Why?

    I am a Canadian. We have a Charter of Rights. Article 15 states that we have equality in Canada. In B.C. there are 57 species of fish, plus an additional 30 can be caught.

    Minister after minister will say I'm right when they respond back, and yet the ministers keep writing forewords in the B.C. recreational tidal waters fishing guides.

    Mr. Tobin in 1994-95 said:

    The recreational fishing resource in British Columbia offers extensive opportunities for anglers. It is no wonder residents and tourists alike are turning to the west coast in increasing numbers for recreational fishing.



    By returning tags, heads of marked fish, participating in creel surveys, resorts' and charter boat operators' participation in log book programs, anglers are assisting the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in managing the resource.

    We have asked for this as far as the sentinel fishery is concerned. We can indeed provide additional information at no cost. In fact, they're making a buck off of us because they're selling us a licence, whereas they'd rather spend a million bucks to give to the union to conduct a union fishery.

    Then, in 1995-96, Mr. Tobin writes:

    Recreational fisheries continue to grow in importance, in both social and economic values. The rich waters of the B.C. coast, always a part of the West Coast lifestyle

—“always” a part of the west coast lifestyle, but certainly it was always a part of the east coast lifestyle as well—

have been discovered now by the rest of the world. It is widely recognized that the 400,000 resident and tourist anglers contribute many millions of dollars to regional and national economies.

    Mr. Mifflin, when he was minister, wrote:

    We have made a commitment to the people of Canada—a commitment to get government right. I am looking for help from Canadian anglers and organizations which represent them. I want you to be involved in shaping decisions with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans—decisions that affect fish and their habitat,and the people involved in the fisheries.



    The sport fishing community continues to lead the way in making a contribution to the resource and creating partnerships for the benefit of fisheries management and habitat restoration. The fishery of the future will be conservation-oriented, economically-viable and self-sustaining, and one that operates in partnership with user groups and DFO.

    As a Newfoundlander sitting before you today, I do have to ask this question: Why can I not catch in equal numbers to B.C., with conservation quotas in mind? This is what I'm pleading for, that as a Newfoundlander, I'd like equality, protection under the Charter of Rights, and the ability to go out and be equal with my fellow British Columbia people

¹  +-(1505)  

    I've been to B.C. I can go out there on the water. I can set my shrimp pot. I can set my crab pot. I can't in Newfoundland. The question is, why?

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Thornhill.

    Colleagues, I'm in your hands. The next presenters were to begin at 2:45 p.m. and it is now 3:08. Does anyone have any questions of these witnesses?

    Mr. Roy.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Jean-Yves Roy (Matapédia—Matane, BQ): Concerning what Mr. Rice, Mr. Stuckey and Mr. Fleming said, I just want to remind the committee that, if my memory serves me well, we asked to have some items put on our agenda among which the allocation of licenses, the way DFO allocate them, as well as the allocation of licenses to new... [Editor's Note: Inaudible]. We will come back to it when the committee has enough time to deal with that matter. I just wanted to remind people in this room that at one point we considered reviewing the licenses attribution procedures.

[English]

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    The Chair: First of all, gentlemen, did you get that?

    A voice: No.

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    Mr. R. John Efford (Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, Lib.): But I think I'm going to say the same thing, and just add a little bit to it.

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    The Chair: Go ahead.

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    Mr. R. John Efford: What Mr. Roy said is that this committee studied how the licences have been allocated by DFO, and it's something we're going to make a recommendation on to DFO in the future.

    To your immediate situation—and I agree with what you're saying—I have some numbers. In 1984 there were 59 boats fishing crab in Newfoundland and Labrador. As of a year ago it was 3,517. So that means it went from 59 to 3,517.

    To get to the point made by those at the back, this minister, I can tell you now, is not going to issue crab licences, core licences, to get at more crab. The direction you're going in—and Wayne, you and I talked in Ottawa—is quite right. The only way you have a chance, outside of the courts, is to get the minister—and I think we'll talk about this later as a committee—to set up an independent appeals committee that people can appear at. If you don't get that done, I'm telling you now....

    If there are 500—and the minister says it's 1,000, but let's split the difference for the sake of argument; it could be only 200—at 20,000 pounds per permit, in rough numbers, because it could be 18,000, then you're talking another 10 million pounds of crab that he would have to give out. But people having a fair hearing, in an appropriate appeals committee not made up of union and fishermen and other things...I think that's the route you're going, and I support what you're saying there.

¹  +-(1510)  

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    Mr. Wayne Budgell: Thank you, Mr. Efford. I agree with you. We are not asking for an increase in quota. We understand the crab stock is depleting in some areas, but we're not asking for an increase. What we're asking, I guess, is for the existing fishermen to share some of their fish.

    I did some quick numbers on it, and my understanding is that there are less than 200 people in Newfoundland who deserve to be brought up to core status. It would be roughly around 150 pounds that fishermen would have to give up of their quota so that fishermen, bona fide fishermen, could be brought up to core status.

    But I have a suggestion on where you could get a million pounds of fish, a million pounds of crab. The union has a million pounds of crab quota with an oversized boat, the only boat in Newfoundland that has special permission from DFO—it appears to me that they're in bed, sleeping together—and that goes out, with this million pounds of crab quota, and competes against the union's own members. So there's a million pounds you can distribute.

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    The Chair: Any other questions?

    Mr. Elley.

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    Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Canadian Alliance): I just wanted to make a comment on what Mr. Elkins said.

    As a sport fisherman in British Columbia, aside from moving out to B.C.... I mean, you folks in Newfoundland are getting the short end of the stick, no question.

    Of course, what happened in B.C. is that we had the demise of commercial fishing for salmon particularly, and now in B.C. of course the recreational fishery brings in three times the amount of revenue to the province that the commercial fishery does.

    Now, I'm not saying that's the way it should be, but that's the way it is. They have cultivated a good recreational fishery alongside the commercial. The recreational fishery doesn't make a dent in the commercial in terms of the catch, but what it does in terms of economics in the province is bring a whole lot of money into that province, which you folks here in Newfoundland need badly. So you have to find some way to have parallel paths in this industry so that the most people in this province are making the most money they can. It just makes good economic sense for this to occur. I don't know how you're going to do it except for people like me and others on the committee to advocate for you to try to get some equity.

    We have a little sign in our lobby area, in the opposition, that says, “Mr. Prime Minister, aren't all Canadians equal?” Apparently they're not.

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    The Chair: Go ahead.

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    Mr. Max Thornhill: I just wanted to say that, as I said earlier, I did have a lobster licence and a salmon licence and so on, but because I wasn't employed full time in the fishery it was taken away from me. I had it for recreational purposes. I could set 200 lobster pots. We set ten for a whole spring and caught two lobsters, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

    My point is, when we were allowed to do this and then it was taken away, at the same time it was being taken from us, B.C. was being increased, and increased, and increased. We were on the opposite end of the line, seeing it taken away here and increased in B.C.

    I'm well aware of what goes on in B.C., because I'm writing minister after minister, and I get nowhere, except that I do now have a letter from Mr. Thibault that says fish are not the property of the commercial fishers; they should be shared by all. But somewhere along the way someone has to tell them that.

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    The Chair: Mr. Stoffer.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much.

    Junior, you had mentioned that somebody at DFO basically told you to lie to get your core status. Can you give us the name of the person at DFO who told you that?

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    Mr. Junior Stuckey: No, I don't know his name, but that is a true fact.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Well, sir, it would be more of a fact if you could give us the name. If DFO officers or individuals or people in those offices are giving you that type of advice, this committee wants to know about it. So if you can get the name of that person, we would like to offer that individual the opportunity to rebut what you've said—if indeed they can rebut it.

    As a second question, in the Great Lakes we have a great commercial fishery. We also have a fabulous recreational fishery. I've just mentioned to my chairperson privately, who's from that area, that we don't hear of the great divide between the commercial and the recreational in the Great Lakes. I'm kind of wondering...because I've always thought that the two could coexist.

    There is one thing you need to know about the recreational fishery on the west coast. If you look at the history of Langara Island, the area trollers were allowed to troll around that island 50 feet off that shore, literally since they were trolling, and that right was taken away from them. There was a 12-mile protection zone around that island so that only recreational fishermen could have access to those fish. The commercial fishermen, literally overnight, were gone. That's why you have such a divide in some areas like that.

    It wasn't right what happened, but I agree with you; I believe both recreational and commercial can exist. I also can't see any reason why you would be given information other than what we've already heard.

    Go ahead, sir.

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan: I'll comment to Mr. Wappel, as the chair, that I'm also a member of OFAH, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. I have fished the Great Lakes and, yes, they coexist evenly down there because they do have access to the resource, and the Ontario natural resources ministry and the federal government have recognized that there is equal access to that resource. The same thing is not happening here.

    One thing that did happen here is that when Minister Thibault introduced a new marine recreational fishing licence for the first time in Atlantic Canada it was to try to give us equality, as he told me in my meeting, with the B.C. counterparts. That was why he was introducing it. The DFO officials here in St. John's have said to me that even with just a 30% rate of tag returns, the scientific data and information on the stocks by the 90,000 people in the first year who engaged in that activity, spread across 7,000 miles of coastline and every bay and inlet, gave them far more information than the union fishery. I'm sorry, I mean the indexed; no, I mean the commercial. And that's something I'd like this committee to clarify, that an indexed fishery is a commercial fishery. A sentinel fishery is a union fishery, engaged only by union, and a commercial fishery is...we don't even know what it is.

    All the terms should be consolidated to say what they are—indexed, sentinel—and a commercial fishery, sir, is a commercial fishery. More information can be gained on the status of the stocks in Newfoundland—the condition, the size, and everything—with a recreational marine licence than with a sentinel fishery. If there is a sentinel, indexed, or commercial fishery, sir, then the minister should be advised by this committee that there should automatically be a recreational fishery for the 60,000 to 70,000 people who took the time to buy the licence and are actually paying for you to do the research, whereas they are paying the union to do it. The tables should be reversed, sir.

    Thank you.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Mr. Chairman, the final point I have, just for the record, is that an all-party committee was set up here in Newfoundland and Labrador, with all elected officials and other agencies agreeing to a particular plan that they presented to the minister. Part of the recommendation plan was the cancellation of the recreational fishery.

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan: But only if there was no commercial fishery.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Right, if no commercial fishery.

    Now, that is a huge political risk, and I admire the elected officials for doing that. If you shut the commercial, you shut the recreational. That's a huge political risk.

    In terms of consultation, I would assume you were consulted by the all-party committee in that regard.

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan: No, sir.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: You weren't.

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan: No, 60,000 voices were totally ignored.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Okay. We can discuss that later. But I just wanted to say...

    Okay, then, was there any consultation among your groups with the all-party committee from Newfoundland and Labrador?

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    Mr. Rick Bouzan: Yes, ourselves, with me as co-chair of a new organization, and all the organizations in the province gathered together, including Mr. Jim Morgan with the Rural Rights and Boat Owners Association, at over 18,000 members, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, with our 24,000 card-carrying members, and the ACV Association. I can name over 18 associations that met in Gander representing probably all of the 50,000 or 60,000. We met with Mr. Efford, too.

    We appreciate the effort you put in, and the concerns. We appreciate them. Thank you.

    So we met, and we put all of these voices together. We made a submission to Minister Thibault directly, and we also made submissions to Mr. Danny Williams and Roger Grimes of the all-party committee. We were very concerned about the oversight involved in our not being put in there.

    The submissions we made, we understand from Mr. Efford, were almost identical to what the all-party committee made, which showed that we have great insight. Our biologists and scientists are just as capable as putting papers together as they are.

    We did say to them, if there is no commercial fishery, that's fine; there should be no commercial fishery also. We agreed to that. But if there is a commercial fishery, there should be a recreational fishery. And Mr. Efford told me that was absolutely recommended.

    I'd also like to point out that, if you look at the research, there are places in the United States, and even in B.C., where commercial fisheries once existed and they no longer exist, and what has replaced them is a recreational fishery.

    I mean, Mr. MacKay, the front-running candidate for the upcoming PC national party leader, has said maybe there should only be a recreational fishery. Maybe the PC members of this committee could explain that. He seems to think if there is going to be a demise in the fishery, then it should revert to a recreational fishery. This was said by Mr. MacKay, so, hey—

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    The Chair: Well, we won't go into the leadership politics of any party today.

    Any other questions, colleagues? That's it?

    Thank you very much for your evidence, gentlemen.

    On your issue there, I think you said the decisions had to be made quickly. What timeframe are we talking about?

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    Mr. Wayne Budgell: I guess the commercial fishery, crab fishery, has started, both offshore and inshore, although the inshore probably hasn't really started yet. But this has been going on since 1996, Mr. Chairman, and if these people are not going to lose this fishing season, then we need something to be done with this quickly. If not, these people are not going to survive through this fishery.

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    The Chair: All right, we'll take that into consideration. Duly noted.

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins: Mr. Chairman, in Newfoundland if you have your hand up it's an indication that you want to speak.

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    The Chair: There you go. You learn something every day.

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    Mr. Arthur Elkins: Just very briefly, I had thought that we were the only ones who were given the distinction of being overlooked and not consulted before the minister made his decision. I would just like to say to you that I was flabbergasted by your statement that this committee was not consulted. If I were you people, I'd check your pensions, because that's a bad omen.

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    The Chair: I said we were not notified of his decision prior to him making it.

    Thank you very much, gentlemen. We appreciate your coming. Sorry about the timeframes.

    It's 3:30, and we'll now hear from our next set of presenters: Tina Fagan, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association; and Mr. Budgell again, whom you'll recognize. He's here on behalf of Jim Woodman, to make his presentation, I guess because he couldn't be here.

    I presume you'll explain that. Since you went first last time, although in a different capacity, I'll ask Ms. Fagan to go first now.

    Ms. Fagan, please go ahead.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan (Executive Director, Canadian Sealers Association): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I want to take a moment to welcome your committee to St. John's. The last time I appeared before this committee I had 17 hours' notice to write a presentation, get it printed, fly to Ottawa, find the building, and find the room. And then I had to appear behind John Efford. It's a measure of how serious he was in trying to get away from me following him that he ran for the House of Commons and he's now on the other side of the table.

    I note that you have no women. Maybe I'm going to have to run to get a woman on this committee. What do you think?

    Voices: Hear, hear.

    Ms. Tina Fagan: I want to say a special hello to our Newfoundland members. Mr. Matthews I've known for a long time. I was trying to remember today, did I campaign for him or against him?

    No, Bill, I had actually left the Burin Peninsula before you ran, so I'm safe.

    Mr. Hearn, of course, represents the riding of my ancestors, so I feel well protected here today.

    The sealing industry in Newfoundland...and I guess if you go back to the comment that one of our former premiers, Brian Peckford, was wont to make, “Some day the sun will shine and have-notwill be no more.” I'm sure there are some areas where that hasn't happened, but it has happened in the sealing industry. It really has.

    I've been here now for just about ten years, and the vision has always been that we have to make this industry succeed. We have done it. I don't want to swamp you today with numbers, but I just want to very quickly say to you that in the year 2000 the average price for a seal pelt was somewhere in the vicinity of $13. In 2001 it went to about $23. The year 2002 was a really unusual year, because it started at $55 and ended up at $75. In 2003, $55 is about the average price that sealers are getting today. And please don't look at that as a drop. The situation last year was that there was very strong competition between two main companies here, and I think they both got a little carried away with it. This year we're looking at a more consistent, more sensible price.

    Still, in 2000 it was $13, and in 2003 it's $55. I think this industry has come a long, long way.

    There are good markets for the pelts. There are strong markets developing for seal meat now. We've finally gotten into Korea and into some of the other countries. I think there are things happening out there that speak well.

    In regard to seal oil capsules, certainly I know that John Efford and I are both staying healthy because of them. I could recommend them to any of you who are not taking them. I was going to bring you some supplies today.

    Oh, so John's been looking after you, has he? If not, we'll get you some.

    One of the big problems we have in our industry is that we are a rather unique industry, there's no doubt about that, and we have the situation of the cod. There is no doubt in anybody's mind that this is an extremely serious situation.

    I am familiar with the inshore fishery. I watched for many years as my father-in-law struggled to raise a family. He had a 26-foot inshore boat. I know the problems. Our sealers know the problems. Many of them have depended on codfish and many of them find themselves without part of their income because of the most recent decision. We recognize the problem and we sympathize very, very strongly with them.

    It would seem to us, Mr. Chairman, that in order to manage anything we have to have the important data at our fingertips. There are some fantastic opportunities for the managers at DFO to learn from the front line—from sealers, from processors, and from marketers.

    Sealing's been an important part of our heritage, as has been fishing. I think when we look at what's happened with the fish and what's happened with the growth of the seal herds, obviously domestic and foreign overfishing has played a major part in it, and now of course we have to look at the fact that seals are a major factor in the regeneration, or lack thereof, of those stocks.

    The animal rights people have to take a share of the blame. If they had not interfered some 30 years ago, if they had allowed us to go on as we were.... We had a manageable-size seal herd. We had world-class fish stocks off our shore. They interfered. The government of the day—and there's none of you old enough to have been around then, so I can nail them—just simply didn't know. They were caught really not knowing how to react to this. Instead of reacting as the Government of Norway did at the time, throwing them out of their country, they started bending over backwards to them.

¹  +-(1530)  

    Of course, basically what happened is that the markets went, and the seal industry went down to an all-time low. We were not taking seals because there was no market for them. The prices were terrible. I've heard stories of sealers sitting in basements at night, or in cold sheds, trying to take the blubber off pelts so that they could store them in snow in order to make a few dollars, in order to try to keep their industry alive. It would be extremely beneficial for some of you to hear some of these stories.

    I regret that our board can't be here today. Most of them are either still sealing or at sea trying to get some shrimp and crab in order to make a living. Of course, also for us, every time we start moving board members around, it costs us dollars that we don't have. So unfortunately, most times, you get me.

    We have an industry that we're extremely proud of here, but you know, this is May 7, and we have 350,000 seals to harvest this year, according to year one of the minister's three-year plan. As of May 5, we were creeping up on 250,000. I think it was somewhere in the vicinity of 243,000 taken.

    Gentlemen, we have not seen a management plan. We have not seen a management plan. How can we manage, how can we responsibly look after that which we have to do, if there is no management plan?

    This is the management plan for 2002. If you take this plan and you go back to management plans for the last...well, I've been here ten years, so if you go back that far....

    I took the opportunity to go back and look. Most of it, with the exception of changing numbers, is pretty much the same.

    Now, I don't blame the people who are doing it; believe me, I have respect for the two people who work on this. They have many other files, and all of their files are very controversial, so it is difficult. But a plan is not a report on the past, and that's what this is. A plan is taking all the information on a specific species, in this case the seal, and looking at how we drop the numbers to a reasonable number. First, what is a reasonable number? Because we don't want to go below that.

    Mr. Efford came in to see me yesterday. We've been friends for awhile. We've had our agreements and we've had our disagreements, and we respect each other's right to do that. He came and assured me that whatever government does, they will make every effort not to disrupt the commercial seal harvest.

    But you know, gentlemen, the commercial seal harvest is hit-and-miss. Let me tell you a couple of stories from this year. I'm not going to read this. You have it, and I'm sure you'll get your staff to read it. I think it's better today if I just speak from the heart in terms of what I'm doing.

    Every other year when the minister has announced what the total allowable catch has been, the Canadian Sealers Association has sat down with DFO and we have determined how to allocate these seals. We have a formula there. We have the over-35 vessels on the front, the over-35 in the gulf, the under-35 in both sectors. We have the Labrador quota. We always leave some for the food fishery. And we've always done this.

    All of a sudden, this year we're being told, no, no, we have to go to Ottawa for permission for you to do that. We have to take your recommendations to Ottawa.

    When I called Ottawa and asked why, they said, “I don't know. We've never done it before. I don't know why we'd be doing it this year.”

    When the seal harvest started—

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    The Chair: Who told you to do this?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: The seal person we deal with at DFO, here in the region.

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    The Chair: Name?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: Mr. Larry Yetman.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: He called a meeting for Deer Lake, which I didn't make because of high winds. My flight couldn't take off. A lot of this stuff was talked about at that meeting.

    When the seal harvest started... and we do a voluntary closing here in order to get away from the whitecoats and get away from the poorer seal type of thing. When it reopened and the sealers went out, we did not know what the quota was for the large vessels out on the front.

    Now, if you have 348 vessels out there and they strike the seals, it's going to happen very fast. We did not know what the quota was. How can you manage that which you do not know?

    A fax went to my office from DFO in the region at 10 minutes past 5 in the afternoon, outlining the quotas—which were not what we had recommended, incidentally—and they had already given notice to the media that they were closing the front.

    They had absolutely no consultation with us, not even the courtesy of sending us a fax to say we are closing today on the front because we believe the numbers have been taken. I called them and said, you're wrong, you haven't got the numbers, no, no, no.

    Now, if this were a one-time thing, then maybe, but this has happened, as the Newfoundland members will know, every year since at least 1995. We had a premature closing. The weather was horrendous out there. Sealers left to come in because they were told it was closed, and some two or three hours into Monday morning, I got a call from DFO that basically said, whoops, we goofed. I said, to what extent did you goof? There are still 47,000 seals in that quota to be taken. And the majority of the boats had left to come in.

    So sealers were deprived of the opportunity to earn an income, because once they got in or got past the point of no return, they could not go back again. DFO opened it again, I believe, from one o'clock to six, for 47,000 seals, and when they closed it again, we still had 7,500 seals left in the water out there. That represented approximately $300,000 in sealers' pockets. Importantly, it also left 7,500 seals in the water to eat more fish.

    So that's one problem, the allocation; that was just absolutely horrendous.

    I guess one of the other problems, and it is related to this, is the problem of catch reporting. I don't know how we deal with it.

    We devised last year, through the Canadian Sealers Association... because since 1995, since we started taking a lot more seals, this has literally been driving us crazy. We're getting all these premature closings, reopenings, premature closings, reopenings, and nobody knows when they're coming because there's no damn plan. There's nothing to tell us how to do things.

    The system now is that apparently vessels over 35 feet are required to do what's called the “daily hail”. There's not even consistency there. Some sealers tell me they're required to report only what they catch that day. More tell me they're required to report what they caught that day and what they've got to date. More tell me they're required to report only what they've got to date. Immediately, then, the opportunity is there for human error.

    When all this information comes in, it's faxed from one office to a bunch of offices, back to the other office, which leaves a whole lot more room for human error, and then somebody makes the decision, we've got to close it down.

    So they close it down, and what do we have—40,000, 50,000? You name it; over the years it's been differing numbers.

    We devised in our office a system that would not only require the large vessels to report but the smaller ones as well. We were prepared to do it for a year's pilot project, and if it worked, let's do it. It is our industry, and for 21 years now the Canadian Sealers Association has been the guiding light in that industry.

    So we offered to do it, and we got a letter back from the minister, thank you very much for your offer, but we know what we're doing. Three weeks later we had to close down prematurely again.

    The problem is there, and it seems nobody really wants to listen when we tell them.

    We had been asked by Minister Tobin... and I can't remember if it was before he left Ottawa or if it was after he became premier and went back. It's hard to follow him sometimes. I used to babysit him when he was a young boy, so I have to be careful what I say.

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     He asked us to prepare a five-year operating plan, a proposal, if you will, for what's needed to make this industry succeed. We put a lot of time in. I don't have a lot of staff. It's me and one other. I have spent a lot of nights and a lot of weekends and a lot of time talking to people, writing, and putting things together. We put together a five-year proposal, about that thick. We forwarded it to DFO, to the minister, and we forwarded it to umpteen other people. I gave Mr. Efford a copy of the executive summary. It's around.

    In July of last year we sent it to the minister. I think it might have been February when we got a response, saying, please be advised that we are reviewing this and we'll be in touch.

    It's May and we haven't heard anything. The only comment that got made to me was from Minister Byrne the other day, who said, you know, your proposal is very rich, and we're going to have to talk about it.

    Well, gentlemen, it was $2 million over a five-year period. The minister has just announced that he's going to spend $6 million to try to determine what seals eat. Give me the $6 million. I'll tell him in 15 minutes. Up in my office there are boxes and boxes and boxes of scientific reports, of predator-prey reports, all that kind of stuff.

    It's there, damn it, so let's sit down and make this industry work. It can't be a panacea for the ills of the fishing industry but it can work hand-in-glove. We can find ways to make both industries work.

    Another problem we have relates to the hooded species. We harvest here mainly harp seals.

    Now, this is a fun one. The hooded species hasn't been counted for 13 years, so we have no idea. We just know there are more and more out there, because our sealers tell me how many they pass going in and coming out. I've been out on these spotter planes myself, and I know what's out there.

    There is a quota of 10,000. However, we are not permitted to touch the younger seal. We are only allowed to harvest the older seal. And there is no market. Nobody's touching them because there is no market. There is an extremely good market for the younger seal.

    For the life of me, I don't understand it. They allow us to harvest harp seals that are two and three weeks old, but they won't allow us to harvest a hooded seal that's the same age. Their reasoning now is that they don't know how many there are out there. Well, hey, guys, I can tell you how many, approximately.

    I've been fighting this for ten years, and others have before me. If they had allowed us to take 10,000 a year out of the system... Last year their pelts were going for about $125 per pelt, so look at what would have gone into the pockets of sealers and processors and so on. Aside from that, in ten years you would have had 100,000 more seals, and hood seals eat more fish than harp seals.

    There needs to be—and I don't know how to do it, I'm tired of talking about it and I'm tired of working on it—an immediate effort to sit down and develop a plan, not just a report of the previous year with the numbers changed to reflect the next year. There needs to be a plan. How do we do the allocations? What do we do about the hooded seals? How do we do this catch reporting bit? What do we do about the licensing?

    We talked to DFO this year, and in fact the sealers in November put in a very strong proposal to the minister, saying, we believe for two years you need to put a freeze on all categories of sealing licences. The reason for this is that there are 13,000 licences issued in eastern Canada. We suspect that they're not all active sealers. We need to know what's happening. If you take 13,000, gentlemen, and divide it into 350,000 seals, that's something like 29.87 seals per person.

    So we need to know what's happening, and part of knowing what's happening is knowing how many people are actually taking advantage of this resource. Again, it comes into the planning thing.

    We asked them to put a freeze on for a two-year period while we did some of the stuff and came to grips with it. They haven't responded. We sent a proposal up in November from the sealers conference, with a lot of recommendations. They haven't responded. I don't even know if anybody's read it or not, because we've had no response on it.

    Quietly, though, I'm getting, well, you know, the minister's probably going to be announcing the cod closures, and maybe some of these people may want to get into the sealing industry.

¹  +-(1545)  

    Well, damn it at all, there are now only 29.87 seals per person. You can't let more people into this industry and have it succeed. It has to be planned, and it has to be planned in such a way that we are hand-in-glove with the marine ecosystem. We need to have the science. We need to know what's happening in the fur markets. We need to have product development.

    Take some of that $6 million and let us use it in product development, in market development. We have now some top-notch products. There are products that are now in the R and D stage. There are things like pet food supplements, which I feed my dogs. We have the seal oil capsules. We have seal leather. We have seal fur. We have seal meat. We have a lot of things we can work on. And yet we can't get anybody to sit down with us and do a sensible plan.

    We have an industry that over the last few years has brought, just in landed value here in Newfoundland, over $25 million. When you have a province with a population of just 500,000 plus, $25 million is not to be sneezed at.

    We have jobs. We have sealers working. We have processing plants working. We have a new processing plant that has started up this year. Obviously they see something there.

    I know you're running short on time, Mr. Chairman, as am I, with a commitment to a 7-year-old, but the critical message we would leave with you today is that there must be an immediate effort to establish a clear, decisive, and cooperative management plan for the sealing industry, not one based on a need to make up for cod closures but one that recognizes the viability and the vibrancy of the sealing industry, one that treats sealing as any other industry that uses animals for the benefit of man.

    There must be consultation, meaningful consultation, with sealers, processors, and marketers on all the points raised in this presentation and on others that might be identified by other people in the process. The plan must stand up to public scrutiny. We are way beyond the years when the sealing industry was an embarrassment to be humoured and left to its own devices. Sealing is now one of the bright lights in the fishing industry. It must be nurtured, protected, developed, and given the respect it deserves.

    Sealers who refuse to cave in and let it die deserve the best you can provide. They deserve to be declared EI-eligible, which is another problem we have. You can go fishing for shrimp in your boat in the same area of the ocean and come in and your earnings are EI-eligible, but if you take your boat out in the same area and hunt for seals, your earnings can't be declared.

    It's a disgrace. It's discrimination.

    Sealers deserve to be listened to through their association. That's another small point here. I heard some people making some comments about the FFAW. Over the last couple of years, when the sealing industry has started to do really well, all of a sudden they're scratching at the door, and DFO, at least here in the region, appears to be trying to force them down our throats, even though we've voted at regional meetings annually, these conferences and so on, that while we appreciate their input, they do not speak for us. The Canadian Sealers Association speaks for the sealers of this province.

    If you do nothing else on the topic of seal management, please get the message across that we have to plan. I don't want to come to this hotel five to ten years from now and have a fisheries minister say, “It's my sad duty to announce today that we have to close the commercial seal industry.” And that, gentlemen, can happen. If we don't do this right, that can and likely will happen.

    So I give you that message and ask you to take it back and please, please do what you can to help us on it.

¹  +-(1550)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Fagan.

    There will be questions, but first I want to ask you, on the plan you were talking about, a draft plan for a year, I believe you said, is that in writing?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: Yes, sir, it is. It's a five-year plan.

+-

    The Chair: Could you provide it to us, and could you provide us with the letter you referred to, from the minister to yourself?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: Yes, sir, I will.

+-

    The Chair: And the sooner the better.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: We will get it to you as quickly as possible. As I said, there are two of us in the office, and right now we are up to here in sealing issues. But we will get it to you.

+-

    The Chair: Good. Thank you very much.

    We'll turn to Mr. Budgell and ask him to make his presentation.

+-

    Mr. Wayne Budgell: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm filling in for Jim Woodman, an assistant in the office of the Honourable Rex Barnes, MP.

+-

    The Chair: Just one second.

    Ms. Fagan, do you have to leave? No? Good. Because I'm sure the members will want to ask you some questions.

    Sorry, sir.

+-

    Mr. Wayne Budgell: That's fine.

    Mr. Barnes, I understand, had a lot of calls during the late winter and early spring about the cost of insurance for longliners to participate in the seal fishery.

    I guess you all got a copy of the presentation. I will just scan down through it briefly.

    The opening remarks:

    We are currently experiencing a major issue with regards to vessel insurance and the availability of same as it pertains to the seal hunt and other commercial fisheries. It has come to our attention that excessive premiums with unrealistic accident deductibles are forcing Newfoundland and Labrador fisher persons to potentially forego insurance. Altogether, this is an unacceptable practice.

    I've done some work for a 29-foot longliner owner, and the longliner is submerged, or semi-submerged, out there with $80,000 worth of equipment on board. She's attached to a hoist stand, and no insurance is carried because it's just too expensive.

    The committee is asked to consider these points:

     The federal government had a program in place under the name of FVIP, Fishing Vessel Insurance Program. This plan was designed in 1953 to provide insurance for vessels, which private sector firms would not insure.

    The FVIP (the plan) was discontinued by the Government of Canada in 1993, due to a declining policy base.

    The plan provided a reasonable alternative to private insurers and costs were reasonable. Private insurers also prevailed and were not in direct competition.

    The plan was administered by the federal DFO office.

    This provided the industry with a reasonable security blanket which prevented loss and undue hardship.

    This service was made imperative by the inability of the small boat fishermen to obtain protection for his principal means of livelihood at rates he could afford and were consistent with the perils of his trade, as in the case of employment insurance, medicare, old age security, and the Canada pension plan. The Government of Canada acts as an organizer for plans which for one reason or another, the private enterprise economy has not been able to generate satisfactorily.

    Current insurance deductions range from $50,000 to $250,000 and are assigned according to insured value. These deductibles are for both partial and total loss claims.

    I'm going to skip on down through this and go right to the closing remarks:

    The basic rationale for this plan was that both society and fisherman would be better off in the event of loss or damage to his vessel in case of unforeseeable circumstances (fire, storms, collision, etc.). The fisherman or vessel owner would be provided with the financial capacity to get back into production as quickly as possible, without the impact of winding up as charges on the state. This local economy would likely rebound quicker in case of a disaster of regional proportions. The meager financial resources of most fishermen, combined with their traditional disdain for protecting themselves against the unknown and the ineffective organized condition of the private marine insurance industry dictated the Government of Newfoundland intervention.



    We are requesting your assistance to reinstate the Government of Canada Fishing Vessel Insurance Plan. An action plan with all participants is urgently required to resolve this issue in a very timely manner.

    So I thank you, on behalf of Jim Woodman from the office of Rex Barnes, MP, for the opportunity to speak on this very important issue this afternoon.

¹  +-(1555)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, sir.

    Before I go to questions, Ms. Fagan, do you have any comments on that submission?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: Yes, sir, I do.

    That has been an extremely serious issue for sealers, because the costs have kept on going up and up. For I guess the past five or six years we've been trying to deal with the issue. At our annual meetings we've invited representatives of the insurance industry to come in and speak. They have, and they've met individually with sealers.

    We made arrangements with one company that would indeed give sealers a break on their insurance if they were members of our association, and I think he got three calls. Yet we kept getting sealers complaining.

    It's a serious problem, there's no doubt about that. The big concern I have is that people will go out without insurance and will lose everything they have. But on the other side of the coin—and a lot of sealers will quietly recognize this—it is the price of doing business. If you have a business, you have to have insurance. If you have a million-dollar enterprise, you have to carry insurance. If you're going out in the ocean where it's really a pretty dangerous place, particularly this time of the year with the ice and that sort of stuff, insurance will be a bit higher.

    Now, we do believe the insurance companies are taking advantage of this. The insurance companies we talked to, the ones who insure sealers—it's getting harder and harder to find people who will insure sealers—have told us it's not them, it's London, or wherever the main insurance companies are, the brokers and the suppliers and that sort of thing. They take their directives from them.

    It's a very complicated issue. While we support Mr. Barnes' concern on this, over five or six years we've talked to government too about the possibility of reinstating this program. When they got up off the floor and dried the tears off their face, the answer was pretty well, “You're nuts. If it's costing the private sector insurance people this much to pay for boats that get damaged, we don't want to be doing this.” So, you know....

+-

    The Chair: Okay. Thank you.

    All right. Let's go back to Mr. Hearn.

+-

    Mr. Loyola Hearn: I have to catch the last train to... Denver. No, the only way I can get back to Ottawa tonight is to catch my flight. I can't wait for you guys. Sorry about that. You're going down to Halifax. I just wonder, with the permission of my colleagues, if I could ask one short question of Tina before I go.

    An hon. member: No.

    Voices: Oh, oh!

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    The Chair: Go ahead.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: —[Inaudible—Editor]— nights I spent in motel rooms with him.

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    The Chair: Oh, that's an intriguing offer. Perhaps we should hear those stories instead.

    Go ahead.

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    Mr. Loyola Hearn: Just before I go--and I hate to leave a couple of other witnesses here, but I know they're left in good hands--although I'm sure the boys are going to say it afterwards, on behalf of Newfoundlanders we'd like to thank the other members for coming here. A lot of the frustrations you've heard around our table up in Ottawa we experience first-hand; I think we've had great pointed comments today, and presentations.

    My quick question to Tina is in relation to the industry. In dealing with seals we're caught, because we're trying to protect the industry on one hand and yet we're trying to protect the fishery on the other, and somewhere in between you have all these seals.

    We've already kicked around this idea: Instead of studying seals and their relationship to fish, why aren't we using the $6 million, or at least part of it, to develop markets and products and whatever? Is it possible to find markets or develop products--and I see some beautiful ones here--that will be able to justify a greater or a larger hunt?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: I firmly believe it is. I've been in this industry for ten years, and when I came here first, if I went out to do a show and tell, basically I would be able to take a parka or two with me, which were probably too heavy. So you really didn't have much that you could talk about.

    When John Efford inadvertently started the run on seal oil capsules, the Council of Fisheries Ministers was here, and his office called to borrow my show-and-tell kit. I sent it down. The things we had then were tremendous. My briefcase over there is a seal leather briefcase, as is John's. The Prime Minister has one. The capsules, the salamis, the pepperonis—all of these things are there.

    Some of the problems we have... and maybe I should have touched on this as well. Sometimes I think that with friends like government, we don't need enemies. When we started trying to market our salami and pepperoni, excellent products that were market-tested across Canada and we had potential markets for, Health Canada said, “Hold it just a minute. You can't do that.” Why not? “Because seal is a fish.” No, it's not, and any Newfoundlander can tell you seal is not fish. “Well, it comes from the sea, and Fisheries and Oceans governs it, so therefore we treat it as fish.” If it's fish, you see, you can't add certain additives to give your product shelf life. “Now, if you want to sell it out of the country, you have our blessings. We will give you all the documentation you need to sell it out of the country.”

    So I went to China with Mr. Efford. We weren't specifically marketing seal meat, but if I'm marketing to you, and you're in one of these countries, and I'm trying to sell you this product, if you're a smart fellow one of your first questions to me is going to be, “How much of this is used domestically?” None. “Well, why not?” Because Health Canada won't let us. “Then screw you. Why would we want to take what you're dumping?”

    That situation has been resolved, but it took certainly eight years of my time, and time before that, and the time of Mr. Efford, when he was the minister here, to get that resolved.

    So we have Fisheries and Oceans, which governs the enforcement of the harvest. We have Health Canada, which has to come in on issues of this nature, and that's fine as long as they do it properly. We have Agriculture Canada, who reports seal meat as meat. We have no problem there. We have Revenue Canada, who says, no, sealers cannot have insurable earnings on this. The two things they've excluded, by the way, are seals and fish scales.

    And why can't sealers have insurable earnings? I personally have had two or three reasons. I was told that one reason was that it was not a commercial hunt. Everybody in the community gets together and drives the seals onshore; you bash them over the head and you all share in the seal meat. They should see some of these $1.5 million enterprises. Another time we were told, “We can't do that because seals are not of the sea.” Well, excuse me, but where are they of? “Well, they don't actually give birth under water.” No, but they crawl out onto the ice, which is the frozen Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles out. Tell me what your problem is.

    The latest thing I had, and I'm working on a new angle with it now, is, “We're afraid to do that, because if we give it to you, and you're selling mainly the fur, then what happens if the beaver and the muskrat hunters and all those fellows come after us?” Well, excuse me, but there's a big difference.

    So it's terribly frustrating. Every year for, I suppose, the last ten years I have asked DFO to bring together a meeting of all of these departments, the appropriate person in all of these departments. Bring us in, let us sit down, and try to iron this out. Because as I said earlier, we need a plan, but damn it all, we need people from other departments to be part of this as well.

º  +-(1600)  

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    Mr. Loyola Hearn: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thanks, Loyola. Have a safe trip.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: And I didn't even ask you to sing for me.

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    The Chair: I find it shocking that anyone—never mind government, or any portion of government—would contest that a seal is a marine mammal. It's almost inconceivable. Any biologist would tell you that.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: That's right.

+-

    The Chair: I'm glad it's resolved, but....

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: Well, that one is resolved, but every time you get one resolved, five more crop up.

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    The Chair: That's absolutely crazy.

    We'll go with Mr. Elley next.

+-

    Mr. Reed Elley: Thank you for coming.

    I'm from the west coast of Canada, and we have a little bit of a seal problem there, too. I don't think it's as bad as yours, but it's sure growing. Are you in any kind of conversation with people on the west coast, and could we do something about that?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: We haven't as yet. We've been sort of shifting around, trying to find out who we should talk to. The only people we've actually ever talked to on the west coast are the salmon people, who said, “You kill blueback seals and we're going to come down on you”, because they were afraid for their salmon industry. But now I think they're becoming more and more aware of what the seals are doing to their salmon industry, so there may well be a greater willingness to do what we need to do.

    We deal with Nunavut. We deal with people in Quebec. In fact, Quebec has just appointed one of their members to the board of directors of the Canadian Sealers Association, the first in a long time. I think that's important.

º  +-(1605)  

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    Mr. Reed Elley: I think if you came out there and had some serious discussions with some of the industry people and others—recreational fishermen and everybody else—you might find more of a consensus to do something out there now.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: I think you're probably quite right.

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    Mr. Reed Elley: So come on out.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Monsieur Roy.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Jean-Yves Roy: I hope that you will understand what I'm going to tell you, because yesterday the Quebec's seal industry told us exactly the same thing you just told us today.

    I took note of what you said about your industry. In my riding, there is a game meat processing company. I am talking here about ranched game species like caribou, red deer, and so on. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is now withdrawing the license from these people, the same license they had previously given them. By so doing, they are killing a 50 employees business and we have been fighting them for the past six months.

    I'll tell you why now. It's because of the king of thermometer the company used. Instead of using a mercurial thermometer, the game farmers use an alcohol one because mercury can be harmful to the animals. Every where else in the world game farmers use alcohol thermometers but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency do not approve of this type of instrument and is now closing down a business that is employing 50 people in my riding.

    I see where you come from and I admire you for hanging-on in this uphill battle. I hope that you will persist. You can be assured of one thing: if and when you come to Ottawa and knock at our door, with Mr. Efford, we will keep on fighting along your side and stand up for you. We will keep on hoping that your industry see the light of day and get some help. This government has to contribute to rather than hamper its development.

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    Mme Tina Fagan: Thank you very much, Sir.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Roy.

    Mr. Efford.

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    Mr. R. John Efford: I'm not going to get into any long deliberation, because Tina and I have been at this for years. I know the frustrations she is experiencing now; it hasn't gotten any easier, in a lot of cases, than when I was at the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

    Mr. Chairman, you've heard what Tina and others today have said. As Bill and I just chatted about, I have to wonder how in the name of God Newfoundland survives at all under the psychological drain that's on people. We go through this every day in the week with DFO's mismanagement and non-management and everything else. Hopefully we're going to make some inroads soon.

    Tina, one thing caught my attention. You know how much I want the sealing industry, and support the commercial industry, and so on. Could you elaborate on the last comment you made, that if something is not done on seal management, in four to five years it could be gone?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: That's if we don't put a plan in place and manage it properly.

    We recognize the fact that there are too many seals out there. There are a few sealers who will disagree with that, but in general, it's a recognized fact that there is a problem. We have been very quick to try to make the point that seals didn't cause the problem, as I said earlier, but they are a major factor in trying to bring back a reasonable fishery to this province.

    Our concern is that whatever we do, we have to plan it properly. The plan has to be there, and all of the areas of the plan have to mesh together in such a way that we protect the commercial seal harvest, we try to do what we can for the fishery, and we do it in such a way...

    My fear is that with the way things are done now, kind of hit-and-miss, things can get done without proper planning and without proper consultation with us. To some degree the game of consultation is being played, but we're not always listened to.

    We sent up recommendations in November from the sealers conference. We held a major conference. Sealers paid a whack of money out of their own pockets to attend this conference, because we couldn't afford to pull it off otherwise, and we deliberated for two days on a very heavy agenda. We sent recommendations up. I don't think we've even had a response to that. Certainly not one recommendation has been listened to or implemented, and we're now 105,000 seals away from the season closing.

    All of the things we wanted to see done for this year...because we recognize the fact that we have a growing, vibrant, viable industry here, and there are things that need to be done. We just can't seem to get through that veil of whatever it is there in order to be able to get the action taken that needs to be taken.

º  +-(1610)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Stoffer.

+-

    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Tina, I have to admit, I have been on this committee since 1997, and you have always spoken so eloquently—and consistently, which is something we normally don't get from the department.

    On the $6 million Mr. Thibault announced for seal “discussions”, I guess, did you recommend that to him?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: We were not consulted in any way.

+-

    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Well, if the Sealers Association, which has a vested interest in this, didn't recommend it, and Mr. Efford didn't recommend it, and Mr. Matthews didn't recommend it, and our chairperson never recommended spending that kind of money on it, then who did? Who recommended to the minister to spend $6 million to figure out what seals eat?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: It would be really interesting to know the answer to that. It would be equally interesting to know who recommended to him to make the comments he made in the Globe and Mail on April 29, which were part of the comments I made there, that, you know, I am going to reduce the seal herd significantly, and we're going to do it through the commercial seal harvest, because they have such great markets.

    We recommended to the minister—this is the one thing they did listen to us on—that the total allowable catch go no higher than 350,000, because that's where the market is. If we flood the market we drop the prices and destroy our industry.

+-

    Mr. Peter Stoffer: I also have a couple of other concerns.

    First, have you written at all to Jane Stewart, the minister responsible for HRDC, regarding EI? Because trappers in the north, by the way, can collect unemployment insurance. I lived in the Yukon, and I know that a lot of them who were trapping marten or mink or beaver or whatever were entitled to EI after that.

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: We've written to pretty well everybody. I think my next step is the Pope. As I said, I've been in this industry for ten years, we've been fighting this issue for ten years, and we keep getting absolutely nowhere. Not only do we get nowhere with the department that we're trying to deal with it on, but we also don't get any outward support from the other departments that should be working with us on these issues.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: One last question. In 1999 we did a seal report, and one of the major recommendations was that the government actively pursue the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the United States.

    In fact, I believe, Mr. Chairman, we heard someone before our committee mention the same thing.

    We're four years later, and from my understanding absolutely nothing has been done in that regard. Although we know that Alaskan aboriginals can sell their seal products to the lower 48, we on this side cannot.

    I'm wondering if you had any consultations--or discussions, I should say--with the department on the Marine Mammal Protection Act in order to open up the market so that if we increase the seal herd we'll have a viable market, hopefully, in the future that would buy the products that you so eloquently mentioned.

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: Minister Axworthy, before he left politics, made the announcement that his department was prepared to take this issue and work with it. He made that announcement way up in the deep north, but it did get to me. I immediately wrote to him and said, “We're delighted. What's going to happen?”

    There was a committee of three set up, of people who had retired or whatever from various places, DFAIT and DFO and so on; I guess they knew the issues. They travelled. I met with them in Ottawa. I met with them here. I set up a whole series of other meetings for them here. They met with a lot of people. They went back to Ottawa and they wrote a report.

    About six months after we had heard the report had been turned in, we kept pushing to find out where it was. I was told at one point that they had to go back to the drawing board because the report wasn't quite what had been expected of this group. About a year ago I got a call from DFAIT, asking me to go to a meeting in Ottawa. When I walked into the meeting, lo and behold, one of the individuals who had been writing that report was standing up at a flip chart. Basically what they were saying was, “We have to start over. It's been two years since we wrote that report and things have changed. We have to start over.”

    Mike Warren from provincial fisheries was there with me. We had both been assured that we were actually going to see this report and work on it. I had written to Mr. Pettigrew, Allan Rock, the ministers that were in the various departments after the fact, and asked to have the report released to us so that we could comment either favourably or say perhaps this should come out and this should go in, or whatever.

    When we went up there, the report was not given to us. I was asked to do a presentation on the sealing industry in Newfoundland, which I did. There were people there from Quebec. There were people there from Nunavut. It was a good, informative, general discussion, but that was basically what it was. And it cost me about $2,500 to go up and tell them what was happening in Newfoundland and hear that there was no report, that we were going to have to start over on this.

    Apparently when I left the meeting—I had to leave early to catch a flight home—this particular individual, who had been hired to write the first report and who I guess was maybe hoping to be hired to write a second report, made some comment about the fact that, well, the sealing industry doesn't seem to have their act together. Well, hey, with friends like government, how the hell do we get it together?

    About four or five days ago I got a call from Mark Rumboldt in provincial fisheries, “I can't go to Ottawa Monday, so can I give you some information to take with you?” What am I going to Ottawa Monday for? “There's a meeting of the DFAIT committee on the Marine Mammal Protection Act.” I had heard absolutely nothing about it, the same committee, but yet I was on their agenda as a presenter. This is Thursday I was informed of it. I was still trying to scramble to get the report for today written so that I could get it to Mr. LeBlanc to hopefully get some French translation done in time.

    By the way, I want to thank Mr. LeBlanc and commend him to you. He's been a rock in the midst of all my trials and tribulations. My secretary was down south, I had the flu, and all this stuff was blowing up around me. I think he deserves a raise—

    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

º  +-(1615)  

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Right on.

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: —or else you can give me his raise and I'll put it into the sealing industry, either way.

    Basically, when I called them they said, “Oh, but we left messages for you.” I'm sorry, but I'm the only one in the office, and there were no messages. When I finally got to talk to the chairman of the committee, he apologized: “We thought we had left a message for you.”

    So they proceeded with the meeting, and we were supposed to be the prime presenter at that meeting. Basically they said, “Well, you know, we just had a discussion.” Just before I left to come here today I checked my e-mails, and there was a message from the chairman of the DFAIT committee, who said, “Attached is some stuff that happened at the meeting, so we'd appreciate your input into this before we take further action on it. We will be holding another meeting, and this time we'll make sure you know.”

    This is where the frustration of this industry comes in.

    The other frustration we have is that everybody tells us how wonderful we are. I've had federal fisheries ministers walk up to me and say, “You're doing a really great job. Keep up the good work.” I tell them my bill is in the mail for doing their work.

    Everybody tells us we're doing a wonderful job. We're a critical agency to this industry, and we can't find sufficient money to keep us alive. We don't know if we're going to survive beyond the next eight to ten months.

+-

    The Chair: “We” being the association?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: The Canadian Sealers Association, yes. To operate properly, we need about $150,000 a year. We get about $45,000 of that from our members, so we're basically looking at about $105,000 a year.

    Now, provincial fisheries has just told us that they'll give us $35,000 a year in an out-and-out grant, and they're going to pay the rent on our office, but it still leaves us $50,000 short.

+-

    The Chair: If I may, Ms. Fagan, I'd like to ask you a few questions, hopefully short ones.

    What are the names of the three individuals who were working on that project at DFAIT?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: Peter Fawcett is the chairman. Or do you mean the people who were on the actual committee? Gary Vernon was one and Lucie Robidoux was the second. She's now on maternity leave, and somebody else replaced her there, I think. There was another gentleman, but even if you paid me, not only could I not spell his name but I couldn't even pronounce it, because he has a very long name. His first name is Joseph.

    They were hired by DFAIT to do a study. In fact, I can provide you with... because only a couple of days ago I was looking at some of the notes they gave to DFO—not the study itself, but some of the notes they gave. I can provide them to you.

º  +-(1620)  

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    The Chair: My question is, though, you said a study was done but it was not given to you. When was that study completed?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: Approximately three years ago, two and a half to three years.

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    The Chair: Have you tried to get it through access to information or anything like that?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: No, we haven't. We tried to get it through DFAIT, and they played around with it and said they were going to rewrite it because it wasn't what they wanted. Lucie, who was still with DFAIT at the time—she had come back, after she had finished the study, to work with DFAIT, and then went off on maternity leave—kind of whispered in my ear that they didn't really want to give me the report because “it's not what you expect”.

+-

    The Chair: Okay. We'll see what we can do.

    Why has there been no count of hooded seals in 13 years?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: You would have to ask DFO that, sir. We have begged and pleaded and implored them on it, to have them counted.

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    The Chair: What do they tell you?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: That we haven't got the money.

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    The Chair: That's the answer, that we don't have the money?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: The same year they told us they didn't have the money, when the report was released on the government departments on how much they spend and all that, I think DFO was over by $13 million in travel that year.

+-

    The Chair: If they're spending $6 million on a study on seals and predation, presumably they're going to have to figure out how many seals there are in order to figure out the predation.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: I asked that question of one of my contacts in Ottawa, on whether some of this will be going into population counts, because we're kind of insisting that it has to. He said, “As far as we know, yes, some of it will go to population counts.”

+-

    The Chair: Good.

    Why is there no allowance to take young hooded seals?

+-

    Ms. Tina Fagan: Oh, if I knew that, I could be canonized.

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    The Chair: There has to be a reason. What is the alleged reason?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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    The Chair: But you're allowed to take young harp seals.

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    Mr. R. John Efford: Tina, can you just explain what you're allowed to do with the hooded seals and what you're not allowed to do?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: You're not allowed to do anything now. At one point in time, it was legal to kill a hooded seal for your own use. If one of our sealers wanted to have a good seal coat made for his wife or himself or something, or food for his table, he could go do it.

    Back in 1996, sealers got a little carried away, and they did kill a bunch of hooded seals. They've been charged. In fact, it's still in the courts up to this day.

    As I commented to somebody, look, this tells you that we have to deal with this. We have to change the regulation. The comment that came back to me was, yes, maybe, but maybe we'll just put in a condition of licence that you can't touch them any more. So now there is a condition of licence that you cannot touch a blueback seal.

    Now, the problem we have with blueback seals is slightly different from that of the harp, because the harp seal is born as a whitecoat, and it progresses fairly quickly through different stages, what sealers call raggedy-jackets and tanners and so on, until they get to the beater stage, which is two or three weeks, and we can harvest them, no problem. DFO says go out and kill 350,000 of them if that's what you want to do; we don't care what age they are as long as they're not whitecoats.

    With the hooded seal, the regulation says we may not touch it until it has moulted its blue coat. Well, that can be anywhere between 18 and 36 months, and the suckers don't carry birth certificates. So we have a very valuable pelt out there. We have a seal that, when it grows up, will eat almost twice the fish that a harp seal will eat. We have a quota of 10,000, which DFO religiously leaves in there: You can kill 10,000 of them, but you can't touch the ones that are valuable.

    And they're frightened to death of IFAW. That's foolish, because IFAW is now so far out of it it's not funny any more.

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    The Chair: But is the moult visible to the eye? Can you tell when the—

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: Not when they're wet and in the water; you wouldn't be able to tell, or not very well.

    I mean, it's silly. What we've said to them is, look, change your categories. With harp seals you have beaters, bedlamers, and adult seals. With hooded seals you have bluebacks and adults. So we've said to them, all you have to do is put that other category in; call them beater hoods and allow us to take 10,000 of them.

    But... afraid of IFAW.

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    The Chair: Now, where are these decisions physically taken?

º  -(1625)  

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: I wish I knew.

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    The Chair: The reason I'm asking this is that we're heading to Halifax. We're leaving St. John's. Are the decisions made by DFO officers here, in Halifax, in Moncton, in Ottawa--where?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: We're told that the region has input.

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    The Chair: Which is where?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: Here. We're told that this region has input into the overall decision-making. But we don't know. We don't know how strong their input is. We know they have teleconferences. We don't know how much attention they pay.

    One very good example is that we have sent stuff directly to the minister's office. In the normal course of events, if the minister's asking the region for input, they would send copies of that back and say, “We need some information on this.” The region, up to the point where I provided them with a second copy, never had been asked by the minister for any input into this five-year proposal and so on.

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    The Chair: And Larry Yetman is where?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: Larry Yetman is here in St. John's. Larry is kind of middle-level. He's the person I deal with on seals. He's the person who sits down at meetings with us, when he comes.

    We had an emergency meeting in March because there were things happening. We called an emergency meeting of sealers. We invited Mr. Yetman to attend to answer some questions. I left for the meeting in Gander--there were about 250 sealers at the meeting--on a flight that left here at 11:10 a.m. and that had 17 empty seats on it. I flew because there was a storm coming. You couldn't drive. When I got down there, there was a message from Larry: “Sorry, I can't make it to Gander because of the weather.” And I had just gotten off a flight with 17 empty seats.

    I don't know if it was his decision or somebody else's, but I suspect they really didn't want to have somebody there. They sent to the meeting a local fisheries officer who had no authority to answer anything. In fact, they didn't even have knowledge of some of the issues raised.

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    The Chair: But your basic evidence is that you don't know, as the Canadian Sealing Association, the precise location of where the decision is made about how many seals can be harvested, of which species, etc.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: Exactly.

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    The Chair: Well, then, we'd better find out.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: We've spent ten years trying to find out, Mr. Chairman.

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    The Chair: We'll do our best on that one, too.

    Where can we buy some seal salami?

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: You can't. They delayed so long on trying to resolve this issue that the one plant that was making it went out of business. That plant is now trying to start up again to get seal meat this year, so next year I will send you some seal salami.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: I will make a point of giving Mr. Efford a stick of salami or pepperoni for each of you.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    We'll share it, don't worry.

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    Ms. Tina Fagan: We walk softly and carry very big sticks.

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    The Chair: Exactly.

    Any other questions, colleagues?

    Our last witness apparently didn't come and didn't call. This is most annoying, because that would have allowed us a little bit more time with those who were frustrated that we didn't give them time, but c'est la vie. There's nothing we can do about it.

    So I very much appreciate the evidence of everybody today.

    Thank you, Ms. Fagan, as the last witness, and a very interesting one.

    We're off to Halifax.

    The meeting is adjourned.

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